An elderly ex-serviceman says he is “disgusted” an off-duty firefighter who attacked him in his flat will not face court action after he was given a ‘suspended prosecution’ as part of a new Government initiative.
Bill Ramsay, 82, was left bloodied and bruised after being battered by Adam Talbot in his eighth floor flat in Farsley, Leeds, on Friday night. Talbot was arrested and later admitted assault.
Under new rules, he agreed to pay £150 in compensation and write Mr Ramsay a letter of apology and was banned from going near his flat again. If he fails to comply, he will be taken to court.
He also faces an internal investigation by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
But Mr Ramsay, a retired foundry manager who served with 1st Battalion West Riding Regiment in the 1950s, said he was angry Talbot had escaped immediate court action.
“I’m absolutely disgusted,” he said. “I would sooner have seen this guy go to court and be given 150 hours of community service than get £150 myself.
“It’s fine to keep a case out of magistrates’ court if it’s some trivial matter – someone going into a shop and pinching an apple. But this? This was assault on an elderly man.”
Talbot confronted Mr Ramsay at his flat on Water Lane, at about 9.30pm, allegedly in a row over a relative’s will. Mr Ramsay said he hurled abuse at him, before forcing his way inside and attacking him, causing a cut to his eye and bruising to his face. He then left, but was arrested outside.
Talbot was given a ‘suspended prosecution’ under a new system introduced by the government last month to replace the old regime of police cautions.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the reforms would “empower” victims by giving them more of a say and end ‘caution culture’ for lower level crime.
West Yorkshire Police said the action taken was appropriate because Talbot had no previous convictions, admitted his guilt and had expressed remorse.
Det Chief Insp Lisa Atkinson, of Leeds CID, said: “Had the matter been progressed to court it is unlikely the offender would have received any greater penalty and possibly he could have received a lesser sanction.”
She said Mr Ramsay had initially agreed to the course of action, adding: “The victim was spoken to again and raised concerns about the amount of time the offender had been given to write the letter of apology. The letter has since been submitted to the investigating officer and forwarded to the victim.
“The victim’s son contacted officers to raise concerns and the reasoning has been explained to him. The victim was spoken to again by the investigating officer and had changed his mind and was no longer satisfied with the use of a suspended prosecution.
“While the process does take account of the views of victims, police officers will use their professional judgement to assess the circumstances and decide on the most appropriate outcome.”
Mr Ramsay denied he had agreed to the decision and said his views were “totally ignored.”
A West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: “We are investigating an incident that occurred on Friday evening involving an off-duty firefighter.”
West Yorkshire Police have stopped handing out cautions as part of an overhaul of out-of-court punishments which will eventually be extended across across the country.
The region’s largest force is trailing the system where the six disposals available to police officers, including cautions and cannabis warnings, are replaced with two new measures. ‘community resolutions’ and ‘suspended prosecutions’.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the use of the simple caution, where an offender simply accepts the caution with no immediate consequences, will end.